My journey as a newbee - to be continued

After receiving my FH2+ a few weeks ago and painting it with a stain/glaze specifically made for beehives, I received my first colony today consisting of about eight frames of brood, honey and pollen, a drone frame(?) and an empty one of my FH frames with just the wooden strip to fill the empty slot

They are a Buckfast breed (Apis mellifera buckfast) and the queen mated at a special mating station (I only know the German word, but I think that’s what you’d call it). I’ve yet to learn more about it, but it seems to be an area with very selected colonies that have a high resilience against Varroa. There is a restricted area around those colonys of 7 km diameter where no other beekeeping stations are allowed.

The queen is marked with a yellow chip (2022) and a number by the previous beekeeper.

To transport them in my car I used the FH2+ base, a brood box with the frames I moved over from the beekeeper’s box, the inner cover and two 25mm wide tension straps - which I checked probably a dozen times before I drove off.

I tried to give them a smooth ride and avoided any abrupt accelerations or turns, but hit a small pothole at one point that - as my passengers immediately let me know with an increasing buzz - they did not like.

After arriving at their new place at about 20:30 in the evening, I removed the straps, added the roof and opened the entrance so they can go and start to explore their new neighborhood tomorrow morning.

The colony is already pretty strong according to the beekeeper, so I’ll try and add the excluder and FH super tomorrow early afternoon if the weather permits and after they’ve hopefully calmed down from the move.


The beekeeper told me to remove food frames from the brood box since it will contain sugar from feeding them. He mentioned that they might transfer the sugar to the super otherwise. I will have to ask him if I should do so immediately or after a few days since the bees require some food to wax the FH cells? They also should have some stored until they’ve found food sources in their new area? As a newbie I am not sure how much they need and of course I don’t want to starve them.

I also need to ask him about the drone frame. After thinking about it, I am confused because he said letting them draw comb naturally will result in a lot of drones, but on the other hand he added a specific drone one?


Of course I got my first little sting on the chin right before we started to suit up and before any boxes were opened… I’m not sure if I was lucky or if I had removed the stinger quickly enough (if that’s a thing), but even after a while there is no sign of a reaction, just a little itch when touch the area - so I don’t. :wink:

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interesting. It surprises me that you will be putting a slow super on so soon, but you do have a large nucleus, for sure. I had a colony which never took to the plastic frames and so I rubbed bees wax into the frames in order to encourage them up - that was for my third attempt! I bought a 1 kg beeswax bar and used a hair dryer to melt it and then rub it over each frame. The point I am making is you can help yourself, certainly with a colony that is new to your environment (and, more specifically, to plastic flow frames) by giving them a little help. Just my penny’s worth. I am new too - this is my third year…and the first year where they appear to be comfortable in the super. My bees are the iberian kind, Good luck


Bingo. I’d leave the feed in place and maybe wait on supering, even though they’re a strong colony already. Let them acclimate for a week or so.


Forget the super till they have the brood box built out, they would probably ignore it anyway. Leave the food with them , they will probably use most of it to get going. Don’t worry about the drone brood, they will emerge and the bees will probably fill that frame with nectar/honey.

Give them time to settle before playing with them too much.


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The brood box is more or less built out besides the drone frame and the one empty frame from my FH2. All of the other frames were full of bees too. The cells were a nice (in my newbee opinion) mix of eggs, larvae and capped, so they should be increasing in numbers pretty quick.

But the weather forecast doesn’t look good for the next 2-3 days anyway. Lots of rain, wind around 25km/h and temps between 3-10°C. So I guess it might be a good idea to give them a few more days anyway.

Quick update:

I did a quick inspection together with a coworker last Friday afternoon since we finally had some nicer weather without rain. The brood box was quite crowded and since the sugary food frame only had a smaller patch left we decided to just add the divider and the super on top.

The virgin FH2 frame with only the wooden strip and no foundation already had fresh wax comb about the size of my palm which suprised me a little. I did not expect them to build that fast.

This monday I sat to the side of the entrance a bit to watch them go in and out. It was a lot more busy than what’s shown in the video, but I couldn’t see big pollen bags on their legs. I am not sure if they are bringing in nektar instead and how to identify that?

I didn’t bring my beekeeper jacket or gloves, so I thought I’d just take off the roof and cover to look inside the super, but there was not much going on there. I could maybe see a handful of bees. But since it was only a few days, I thought I’d give them a little longer to find the place…

We have a few strips of wax foundation that were left over from making frames for other hives, so perhaps I should just give them another week and try to just push a few of those onto the FH frames?

I probably should just be a little more patient and see what they are doing, but it is so exciting :slight_smile:

It skipped the inspection yesterday, because I felt it was quite cold and windy. They were pretty active though, so I took another slow motion video.

It’s fun to watch them crash land on the landing pad :slight_smile:

They seem to be bringing lots of pollen already. And I find it interesting that quite a lot seem to like to crawl up the side first before launching.

Today I attended a small talk about American foulbrood. A local beekeeper explained how to take samples, where to have them analyzed and how to do checks yourself.

One thing I learned was that they can catch it not only through contact with other bees, but by bringing in honey humans threw away for example. Here in Germany, we collect glass for recycling and if people bring honey glasses because they think it’s over shelf life or did not clean them, bees might find it, collect the honey and bring it to the colony. Since AFB spores can survive harsh environments they might just bring it with them.

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Now that we had the first few days of sun and the bees were really busy I can see them running on all the FH2+ in my super.

There’s not much to see in the cells yet, but when I took the center one out a few days ago it looked like they started to complete the structure. At least the middle/bottom part looked different when the sun shined through.

I watched them come and go from the landing board today which was really crowded, when I noticed one or two bigger bees walking around. Then I realized the big eyes and thought, they must be drones.


It’s been a few days and I have to report that my side windoes don’t look that busy anymore…

It seems like a big part of my colony swarmed a little less a few days ago. I tried to convince them to stay by removing all the swarm cells I could find in my weekly inspections and give them something to do by replacing a drone frame with an empty one, but it didn’t help. Either I have missed a swarm cell or they didn’t want to stay for some other reason.

Comparing my observation window with what we can see in the HF live feeds, it did not seem like they were too crowded in there?

Either way, I am now waiting to see if they were able to raise a new queen and if she was able to mate. Sadly, I am not around until Friday to check the frames for eggs or larvae, but from what I’ve learned, it takes a few days anyway for her to “settle in”.

I’m back and even though I didn’t have time to do an inspection yet I wanted to share two pictures I forgot last week.

The first is for a bee feeder / watering station I 3D printed from karosass1’s design on Printables. I have not seen any bees using it, but we probably had enough rain for them to find other sources - on the other hand it’s half empty now :wink:

The second picture is a shot through one of my side windows. I liked that you can see the wax bridges the bees build to close the Flow Hive cells:

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Another update: A few days later I was able to spot eggs and larvae in some cells, which I thought was a sign of a new queen. But I learned there was also the possibility of an overeager worker bee trying to do the queen’s job. This of course would result in only drones developing since she can’t fertilize the eggs.

Overall it was a confusing. So I followed the advice of a local beekeeper and just let them do their thing.

The current state is that they seem to have capped the cells for workers, but it seems very spotty, not a nice closed brood nest. Can this be a Varroa problem?

I also had a lot of supersedure cells spread over multiple frames. You can see two in the upper right.

So while I was happy to see worker cells, I am still in a confused state why they’d still try to raise queens. Either it’s already gone again or the colony was not happy with the spotty egg laying and decided to raise a replacement queen?

I’ll be on vacation for two weeks now, so I can just wait and see how they develop in that time.

Still so much to learn…

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I guess that was it for my first year of beekeeping.

After I came back from my two weeks vacation, my colony seems to be abandoned, there’s no brood at all, I didn’t see bees flying or bringing back pollen, just a bunch of them fighting on the landing pad and bees trying to get into the hive from all sides. If what I’ve learned so far is correct, that’s signs for robbing.

I am not sure yet where to go from there. One idea is to start with a new colony before winter, so they have a headstart in spring. But I’d have to ask my local beekeepers what they think about that.

I’ll also at least try the flow mechanism for the honey and nectar that is in the flow frames. Perhaps its water content is low enough so I can have at least a little harvest.

It might not have worked out for me this year, but I’ve learned a lot.

Yes, sounds like robbing. If you are sure there’s no brood your colony is indeed finished, sorry to say. I think that even if there is still a queen cell or two and any workers left, their only chance is to combine with a couple of nurse bee-covered brood frames from another colony and consistent feeding in a nucleus box for the duration.

Based on the above answer, you might have a very small chance to keep a very small colony going until spring, or call it quits until then. Either way, you will need to dismantle your current hive and safely store it until next year. Drain whatever might be in the Flow frames - if you do decide to salvage remaining colony members in a nuc, feed this back to them. Since you already see robbing, it’s best not to leave the Fsuper out to let bees clean up the residue, and your remaining bees are too weak to deal with it so look up info here on rinsing, drying and storing Flow frames. Freeze, then store the comb frames and the rest away from pests.

Many newbeeks experience similar problems in their first few years, me included! It really is a steep learning curve. My first colony died in fall from varroa infestation that took hold because I treated too lightly and too late. Your early posts indicate that your colony was likely already in swarm preparation mode when you received it, so no matter how much extra space you give them at that point, swarming is what they will do unless you split (and there are still other related steps depending on the stage of swarm prep). It’s great that you got connected with local beekeepers, but it sounds like you are still unsure of the reasons behind what they recommend. So I encourage you to take a class and do more reading on bees, their life cycle, and pest management. I’d also suggest pumping the brakes on honey harvesting as a goal for now :wink:. Trust the seasoned members of this community to steer you right on that - the Flow harvest videos are so exciting and enticing, but us beeks in temperate climates with limited nectar flows have discovered there is much more nuance to how and when to super.

Good luck, and let us know how you make out with clean-up!


I did not really expect a honey harvest in my first year anyway, but I at least hoped to have my colony survive.

But according to other local beekeepers this year has been difficult for others too. It might have been the shifting weather early in the year with warm and very cold temperatures, sun and rain till early May that confused the bees and the beekeepers ;-).

As I’ve said before, I have learned a lot nonetheless and I still am.

For example instead of closing the hive completely, I switched to the small entry to try and give the last survivors of the colony a better chance of fighting any robbers. And from watching the landing board and the hive, it seems to have helped a little. It was interesting to watch bees basically jump out of the hive as soon as another landed on the board to investigate if friend or foe.

Well, until a way bigger robber (me) decided to test the Flow Hive mechanism for the first time.

I had only opened about half of the center frame at first and wondered why honey is not flowing out before I realized I forgot to tilt the hive back again after making it level early in the year to avoid rain getting into the entrance.

After that, a very slow flow of honey started.

I was surprised about the high viscosity because the honey from the neighbouring standard hives of my coworkers was a lot runnier after the (centrifuge) harvest. Turns out my honey seems to have a water content of only 13.2% - if I used the refractometer correctly. It also tastes great, but I might be biased.

During harvest I had to save some wasps and ants that found their way to the honey stream, even though I tried to shield it as much as I could with transparent film.

I also got to test the ant guards after the harvest, since a few found some of the spill that happened while closing during the harvest and were enjoying a nice meal under the back window cover / tray the next time I opened it.

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Here we go again. I got my new colony from a local beekeeper on Tuesday and as I’ve reported here it’s a slightly different frame format. I will try and rotate through the “wrong” frames over the next months. Besides being slightly smaller than Langstroth frames I especially don’t like that they don’t have the Hoffmann sides. It makes keeping the right amount of space more difficult.

I moved them to their new location and opened the entrance. The next day we had a little sunshine, so I went to check on them. Since the colony is strong already and I had a lot of bees crawling on the inner cover, I also went and added the Flow Frame Super. Just a look at it in all its gabled roof glory ;-).

The ladies were also doing their first little rounds around the new area and orienting themselves. It’s interesting to observe them what I feel is inspecting their new home from the outside - so they know where to go when they come back.

Every now and then I could see one coming back with pollen, so they also started to bring in food already. It felt good to see my new crew fly about.

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Glad you are giving it another go! I do wonder if it is the right time to put a super on where you are though. Even if your colony is strong, they need nighttime temps to be consistently above 45F and plenty of forage before adding space.


I did check the weather forecasts in advance and the lowest they expect for the next days is 8°C (46.4°F) at night.

The colony is not a new split / nuc, but a full ten frame colony. It wasn’t yet crowded, but pretty busy on all frames and inner cover. It had a bunch of capped cells for a few days before I received it. Because of that, I am expecting additional workers soon. I also found some cell caps in the tray yesterday, so that process has already started.

All that made me want to give them some room before they decided it’s too crowded.

In Germany the bee season starts with the bloom of the great sallow which started mid-end February. Rapeseed just began flowering and cherries will be next. So if we don’t have rain all day, they should be able to find some food too.